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 By PA Sport

Newcastle legend Alan Shearer calls Rafael Benitez hire a 'good coup'

Former Newcastle captain Alan Shearer insists the appointment of Rafael Benitez is a "good coup" for the club.

Ex-Real Madrid boss Benitez was named as the new Magpies manager on Friday afternoon and is tasked with staving off the threat of relegation from the Premier League with just 10 games remaining.

Newcastle, who sacked Steve McClaren just a few hours before appointing the Spaniard as his successor, are one point adrift of safety as the season enters its closing stages.

Yet while Shearer accepts Benitez faces the toughest task of his managerial career, he believes the 55-year-old has what it takes to succeed.

"I think it's a good coup for Newcastle. I'm surprised, when you consider how much success he's had and the clubs he's been at," Shearer told BBC Sport.

"What's different about this appointment is that all the other managers that have been appointed under Mike Ashley have been in a position of weakness.

"[They have] not being able to name their terms, they've had to put up with a transfer system that hasn't benefited the club or themselves, and other things.

"Whereas Rafa can come in, he can put down exactly what he wants, he's not a head coach, he's a manager, he can have the transfer system -- both incomings and outgoings -- and he can name all that before coming in."

Rafa Benitez has gone from coaching the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid to taking over at Newcastle.

Shearer took on a similar challenge in April 2009 with Newcastle sat rock bottom of the Premier League. The 45-year-old, though, was unable to muster enough of a response in his eight-game tenure to save the Magpies from relegation.

When asked whether Benitez has taken on the biggest test of his career, Shearer said: "Yes, to put it bluntly. It's a very tough challenge for him, he's never been in a relegation battle before.

"He's always managed top players and been very successful at doing that, but I think it's an excellent appointment."

Shearer -- who scored a club-record 206 goals during a 10-year playing career at St James' Park -- was not surprised to see McClaren depart.

"I don't think he can complain about what's happened because for the vast majority of this season Newcastle have been in the bottom three," he added. "They've been big spenders, so it's been a disaster really, from start to finish.

"When you look at the way he has been treated for the past four or five days it is not a surprise, it's a difficult situation for him."

Meanwhile, former Newcastle defender Olivier Bernard said he is confident Benitez can keep the club up.

He said: "At the minute, he is the best manager we can get, so getting him is a good statement from Newcastle because that means they believe firmly he is the best man and we as a club are trying our hardest to stay in the Premier League.

"It's a late shout, but I believe he can change it. You need man-management to be able to get out of that situation and he is the best man at the present time to come and change things in the dressing room."

Asked if there are enough goals in the team to secure salvation, Bernard said: "The lack of goals comes from the lack of organisation and system.

"I think the players at the club are good enough to win games, and they show glimpses every now and then. But it has just not been good enough when it comes to doing it regularly in the Premier League.

"Players need to take responsibility on the pitch. The manager puts out an XI and tells them what to do, but he can't play for them. The players need to look at themselves and be better.

"But at the same time, when you look at the way Newcastle have been playing, you don't feel like they have had any guidance and you don't think there was any system and I don't think there was any identity on the pitch, so it's very, very difficult to play.

"It's a combination of the two, the manager and the players."

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